Midnight Drama in Casablanca – A Remote Year
Last night was so bad it almost felt like it was staged:
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First, I foolishly waited until midnight to order a taxi for my 2:15 am flight, but I thought since I wasn’t checking a bag I’d be fine.

Didn’t take the first taxi because he was cash only and I didn’t have enough (should have taken this and gotten cash at an ATM on the way — dun dun dun…)

I was with a friend (former student from teaching here at the Casablanca American School in 2009–10) who then ordered me a car via Careem, an uber-like app, so she could pay with her card. The second taxi took 20 min to arrive, so I left around 12:40 and airport is 30 min away…

 

On the highway, halfway to the airport, another car just steered into us (aka hit us sideways), so we pull over in front of the other car.

So I’m sitting in the backseat of a car on an empty highway outside Casablanca while my driver argues outside with a big Moroccan man in a fur coat and sunglasses at 1 am.

I’m watching them gesture wildly and debate in Arabic while frantically checking my watch and trying not to stress about missing my flight, but also not really wanting to interfere in an argument between two angry men on the highway while alone in Morocco.

20 minutes later, he gets back in the car (after I told him to take pictures of the accident and license plate, duh) and we get to the airport at 1:30 am (45 min until flight). As I’m getting out, he points to the screen and asks me for cash even though we ordered with the app specifically so I wouldn’t have to pay. I didn’t have enough money, so tell him he can come inside with me to get it.

 

I run into the airport while he’s parking, and the security guard tells me I’m late and in the wrong terminal. He points down the empty corridor and tells me to hurry, looking serious and concerned.

So I sprint with my bags across the terminals (narrowly avoiding wiping out on the janitorial crew’s wet floors) and run up to the agents, dry mouthed, panting, on the verge of tears, asking for Lufthansa. They point me to a man who tells me check-in is closed and sends me to the Lufthansa desk.

I rush over and beg her to let me on… nope. It’s closed. I’ve missed my first flight in 10 years of international travel.

This sets in and I begin to sob. She tells me, “it’s not the end of the world” while about 30 Moroccans waiting in line around me watch the saga unfold.

She calls Lufthansa and tells me it’s $500 to change the flight and the next one is 2 days later, also at 2 am. I’m texting wildly to see if there’s any other option available and then hand her my card while wailing about how I wasn’t supposed to be here like this:

 

"I was supposed to be visiting someone and then they dumped me a week before the trip but I came anyway because I spent $500 on the ticket and the taxi had an accident on the highway and now I’m spending another $500 and have to wait two more days and all I want to do is GO HOME!!"

 

The Lufthansa agent realized I was a human being having a terrible, no good, very bad day, so she came around the desk and brought me around to sit with her while she rebooked me (with me sobbing the entire time).

While waiting for the confirmation, she asked me to tell her what happened in my relationship / the trip and then after I explained it (somewhat), she asked if he was Moroccan and I said no, and she was like oh good, didn’t want you to have a bad impression. So there’s that.

 

Luckily Ghita, my former student / now friend that I was hanging out with before, stayed up during this saga (now 2:30 am), texting me and calling the taxi driver, and had him wait to bring me back to her house.

I found him waiting outside, and then I start to cry again. He panics and calls her, speaks in Arabic, hands me the phone. We get in the car and he says (in French), there will be another plane, and I say, yeah but it was 5000 dirhams and 2 days later, and he’s like 5 THOUSAND? and then hands me a lot of tissues and doesn’t speak for the rest of the drive home.

I sneak into Ghita’s house at 3:30 am, she settled me into her bed and went down to the couch (bless her heart), and I finally passed out.

 

It was a day of narrow misses and stress and sprinting around trying to make everything work, and it all just collapsed.

I almost missed my train from Marrakech to Casablanca because I had to sprint (literally, again) to an ATM to get cash for a cooking class when my card inexplicably couldn’t work.

My train was then late arriving in Casa, and without wifi, I had no way of contacting Ghita. So my taxi slowly progressed through awful traffic while I anxiously changed locations three times trying to determine the best scenario to find her, wifi, and not be stranded alone somewhere.

And then, just when I thought all was well and I would happily be heading home soon — after a hot yoga class, shower, dinner — then all this nonsense happened, and I finally, completely broke down.

I am usually hyper-responsible, always careful and logical and on-time. And all I had to do was catch my flight — I needed and wanted so badly to be back with my Remote Year family and in my own space again.

I hear Mercury is in retrograde, though, so maybe it’s not all my fault. Too bad it doesn’t pay back change fees.

 

by Katherine Conaway

Jane Gonzalez
Associate Editor